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Relative Effectiveness of Four Different Guards In Preventing Beaver Cutting of Urban Trees


Beavers are expanding into cities as they recolonize their historic range. While they increase the ecological functioning of urban green areas, human-beaver conflicts occur. Public support to deal with conflicts has shifted from population to forage control. Tree guards are becoming popular with management personnel in North America and Europe to reduce damage to valuable trees. The problem is that this management technique has not been studied. We inventoried the tree guard types in use in natural and manicured river parks in the City of Saskatoon, Canada, determined their adherence to an installation protocol by measuring guard dimensions, and assessed the relative effectiveness of guards in protecting trees from beaver cutting. The inventory revealed that four types of tree guards are in use, ranging from light gauge chicken wire to heavy gauge chain link fencing. Overall, 11% of the trees with guards that we inventoried were cut by beavers, but variation among guard types was observed. Less than 10% of trees with type i and ii guards were beaver cut whereas 17% of trees with types iii and iv guards were beaver cut. Fewer trees were cut when there was adherence to installation protocol, regardless of guard type. Cut trees with guard types i, iii and iv experienced both minor and major damage whereas cut trees with guard type ii experienced only minor damage. The study results have implications for developing effectiveness and implementation monitoring plans for tree guards as part of an overall beaver management plan.

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We thank Z. Waldner and L. Boyer for field assistance, J. Boone (City of Saskatoon) and R. Grilz (Meewasin Valley Authority) for site access and insights into beaver management practices, and J. and S. Schmutz for in kind support. We acknowledge the study was carried out on Treaty 6 Territory and Homeland of the Métis. Funding was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2017-05873) to CJW and a Department of Geography and Planning, University of Saskatchewan, Devolved Scholarship to KE.

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Correspondence to Cherie J. Westbrook.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Westbrook, C.J., England, K. Relative Effectiveness of Four Different Guards In Preventing Beaver Cutting of Urban Trees. Environmental Management 70, 97–104 (2022).

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  • Beaver damage
  • Castor
  • Coexistence
  • Tree guards
  • Wildlife damage management
  • Urban centres